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Wade Hopes To Return As Grizzlies Visit Heat
Posted Dec 16 2006 12:53PM
The Memphis Grizzlies aren't expecting too much from the return of their star player just yet. Fortunately for the Miami Heat, the return of their biggest offensive threat should give them a needed boost.
Miami (9-13) faces off with the Grizzlies at AmericanAirlines Arena on Saturday hoping to have Dwyane Wade back in the lineup.
Wade has missed the last two games after having his wisdom teeth removed. Coach Pat Riley hopes to have the NBA Finals MVP back for the home game on Saturday.
``I talked to him the other day, and he was mumbling pretty good,'' Riley said. ``I hope he's ready for tomorrow.''
Wade is averaging a team-high 28 points but had been scoring 30.8 points per game in his last four contests before being sidelined.
The team is also hoping to have point guard Jason Williams back in the lineup. Riley rested him Friday to avoid playing him on back-to-back nights. Williams is averaging 8.1 points in 11 games off the bench.
Miami is still playing without center Shaquille O'Neal, who is recovering from knee surgery.
The Heat suffered their third loss in the last four games, falling to the Washington Wizards on Friday, 106-95. James Posey led the team with 26 points off the bench while Alonzo Mourning was the only starter to score in double figures, finishing with 17 points.
Miami shot only 41.4 percent from the field after shooting just 39.8 percent in the team's previous game. The Heat weren't able to recover from a 40-17 deficit after one quarter in which they gave up 26 fast-break points.
``We just dig ourselves so big a hole,'' Riley said. ``We did it the other night against Phoenix and tonight was just ungodly, the start that we had - just getting blown right off the face of the earth in the first quarter two games in a row.''
As the Heat prepare to welcome back one of their star players, the Grizzlies (5-18) are adjusting to having theirs back. Center Pau Gasol returned to the lineup Friday against the Atlanta Hawks for the first time this season, totaling four points and three rebounds in 17 minutes of Friday's 97-88 loss.
Gasol missed the first 22 games after fracturing a bone in his foot while playing for his native Spain in the world championships over the summer. While the 7-footer said he was feeling good, coach Mike Fratello said he's going to limit the All-Star's playing time and that the progress may be slow.
``I don't think we should place unfair expectations out there,'' Fratello said. ``He's not going to come back now and have 20 points and 10 rebounds. First of all, he's going to be limited to 16 minutes. If he's getting 20 points in (16) minutes, something's going on.
``It's going to take a while,'' the coach said.
Gasol was 1-for-5 from the field and committed three turnovers as the Grizzlies lost their fifth consecutive game.
``Well, it was hard,'' Gasol said. ''(I was) a little slower than usual, and your legs get real heavy out there. I'm just happy I got through it. It's frustrating that I can't help my team anymore than I did.''
Miami is trying to sweep the series for the second straight season after a 98-97 win at Memphis on Dec. 2 in which Posey hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Grizzlies, who have the worst record in the Western Conference, are 3-7 all-time at Miami.
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